Jim Hohnberger from Empowered Living Ministries works with Christian and non-Christian couples. Not only has he been able to improve his own marriage through the grace of God, he and his wife have also been able to guide couples toward a stronger relationship with God and thus each other. Jim has written numerous books on the topic of faith and in his book Escape to God — A Desperate Search for His Presence Jim describes how God helped him find his faith and become a better partner. Jim’s books have helped hundreds of married couples strengthen their faith.
What is Faith?
Faith is the confidence and trust that one has in their religious beliefs but most importantly their God. A number of Scripture passages assure the believer that God loves them and will not let them go. For example, Jeremiah 29:11 states,
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
According to Jim Hohnberger, a married couple exercises faith to see God’s goodness in their spouse. As they cooperate with God, He changes their hearts. Faith is remembering God’s goodness and not letting fickle life circumstances get in the way. Don’t let little things become a mountain. Challenges rise and fall every day, but remaining at peace through it, trusting God to work for you, is the essence of faith.
Why is Faith the Foundation of a Marriage?
Without one’s ability to remain calm and positive in all situations, they are likely not going to handle the challenges of marriage. Marriage, even with the best partners, can be full of pain, misunderstanding, and external stress. Those spouses that exercise faith day-to-day in God to give them wisdom and understanding, can keep all these challenges in perspective, choosing to forgive others and themselves as Christ has forgiven them.
A Common Worldview
While it is not necessary that both husband and wife believe all the same things, if they hold fast to the enduring narrative of God’s goodness, they will thrive in spite of the challenges! When one loses sight of their faith, the other spouse endures on their behalf, and vice versa. Healthy couples develop an inner peace that ensures that “falling away” moments are always temporary and a part of life. They remind the other of the faith they share with an enduring love modeling the love of God.
Combating Intrusive Thoughts
Millions of thoughts go through a person’s mind every day. The brain is a high-functioning miracle seeking to process all the details around it. Sometimes negative, intrusive thoughts stick and force a person to become preoccupied with a fantasy. A husband sees a woman in a bikini and lustful thoughts flood his brain. The wife fears her husband will fail her somehow and anxiety rises. God is a powerful Helper here and can change our thoughts and feelings as we cooperate with Him.
Faith allows married couples to detach from the intrusive thoughts, through Christ, and let them pass harmlessly by. It creates a stillness that not only protects one’s mind from external pressures, but internal pressures as well.
Please see Jim’s book, “Empowered Living” a twelve-week plan for improving your most significant relations for the daily application of how to change.
Continuing in Love
There are different kinds of love. It can be a wonderful feeling, but as I Corinthians 13 reminds believers, true love is a loving behavior in spite of how one feels in the moment. There are inevitably those moments in a couple’s life when one or both partners feel burnt out or testy and irritable.
Jim Hohnberger notes that even when one doesn’t feel loving, their faith teaches them to trust God’s Truth even when it feels hard. Husbands and wives should treat each other with love and respect. When there is conflict, their faith empowers them to speak frankly but always respectfully. In Jim’s book, “Irresistible” on how to revitalize and empower your marriage, it speaks to the practical “how to” of managing your marriage under God, on a daily basis.
Feelings are like emotional charley horses. They come and they go. However, feelings are also an emotional return on investment after patiently continuing in love. It’s powerful to truly be in Love! Marriage is a marathon, and the benefits of enduring in love are amazing and can only be accomplished in a viable connection with God that makes changing safe and possible.
Faith in the goodness of God helps believers see the goodness in their partner rather than picking out the ugly parts. They learn to filter through God what to say and do, to nurture the good in their spouse and handle their weaknesses with care. Jim Hohnberger concludes that both can rest peacefully in the fact that should the worst thing happen in life; it is a loving part of God’s long-term plan to “give them a future and a hope.”